Product innovation of the year, APAC: Raymond UCO Denim

Indian textile manufacturer Raymond UCO Denim secured the Asia Pacific Product Innovation of the year award for its efforts to develop recycled denim which no longer needs to "down-cycle".

With the scale of waste, water loss and over-consumption of the fast fashion industry becoming starkly clear, it has become more important than ever that textile companies move to a more sustainable model. Creating environmentally-friendly products "is no longer a marketing gimmick" said denim-producers Raymond UCO, but instead "goes much further beyond".

The Indian based producer has created a"post-consumer waste" approach. This shreds deconstructed denim garments into raw cotton, and then blended and processed with natural dyes to create new denim products.

It claims this manufacturing method not only uses 98% less water than virgin cotton products but also reuses the chemicals used to dissolve old products in a closed loop, meaning it "doesn't create pollution".

In collaboration with DyStar it has produced CADIRA Denim in India for the first time which removes hydrosulphites from the dying process. This eliminates the need for the significant amount of fresh water typically used in the denim dying process.

The post-consumer waste method is also reducing the vast amount of landfill and waste usually associated with fast fashion. In the past, it said, recycled clothing ended up being "down-cycled" into something of lower value. This might include jeans being used as building insulation. Instead, it explained, its innovative method is turning recycled denim into "something good enough to make a brand-new denim garment out of".

"The industry has to continuously innovate and adapt new technologies to mitigate the environmental impact of the process" it said, adding "the recycling of textile waste can serve as a means of providing solutions to many economic, environmental and social issues".

"Though textile recycling has an old history, in recent years it has [become less important] because of the fast fashion culture in the western world which has resulted in the over-consumption of textiles and corresponding waste generation". It continued "the industry needs to focus on re-use, re-process, recycle".